walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

what's up with the stimulus money for high speed rail?

http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/10/22/22greenwire-high-speed-rail-effort-proceeds-with-caution-77408.html

We were supposed to have grants last summer. What happened?

Rule #1 of railroads: Change happens slowly.

They are engaged in the first important policy battle of (re)building passenger rail infrastructure (here or anywhere): should we incrementally improve our existing system or purpose-build new stuff. In general, the history of wildly popular, heavily used high speed passenger rail indicates that purpose-built works and incremental, well, that's a lot less clear. It certainly isn't wildly popular, and it certainly doesn't move people nearly as quickly. The economic argument on all infrastructure is weak: clearly, we do need some infrastructure. Equally clearly, infrastructure takes generations to "pay" for itself, even tho we all immediately become completely dependent on it and can't imagine living without it.

The FRA has been around for a while. A long, long while. Anyone working at the FRA has survived more opportunities to lose their job than ordinary humans can readily imagine. No one over there is going to stick their neck out. The politicians, meanwhile, are busy attempting to leverage their committee chairmanships into projects for the places they represent. Funnily enough, there are actually some people saying, what's the point of moving people on the train from point A to point B if there isn't a public transit system in either A or B? That criteria, somehow, never comes up when the infrastructure is an airport. Or, for that matter, a private automobile. And while you might say, oh, well, the automobile solves the problem itself. Well, not if there isn't space on the roads to drive it, or space off the road to park it.

Trains are held to a standard unimaginable for other transport infrastructure.

I've been reading so much about trains that at this point, I have no real emotional response left to this. It just is. I wonder if that's how the FRA crowd is feeling? Or not feeling, as the case may be.
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